Same milestones, new rituals: Help Crosscut report its next project

How are you planning birthdays, graduations, funerals and other important events during coronavirus?

A girl standing on her lawn with birthday balloons behind her, an elderly woman wearing a face mask listening to a neighbor play the saxophone, and a baby reaching out to a hand on the other side of a glass door

Left: Aleiyah Cannady turned 6 on April 24 and her grandmother, Alesia, who is raising her, decorated the yard with balloons and cupcakes. Friends and family drove by to wish her happy birthday and celebrate with her from afar. Top right: Neighbors on a Ravenna street come out of their homes for a singalong on April 5, 2020. Bottom right: Baby Eli reaches out to say hello to a visitor. (Dorothy Edwards and Donna Blankinship/Crosscut)

The coronavirus pandemic is changing how we observe the milestones that guide us through life — weddings, birth announcements, graduations, funerals, birthdays. The way we process the emotions associated with those moments is changing, too. There’s celebration, grief, love, pride. 

What do we do when so many pivotal moments in our lives are based on gathering in community — and we are isolated? As a photojournalist, I am inspired by the people who are persevering and finding new ways to still make space for some of the moments that keep life moving.

Wedding photographer Vicens Forns captured a moment from a wedding in San Francisco where the pews were filled with photos of people to make the church feel less empty. The wedding was livestreamed for the planned guests.

The New York Times podcast The Daily featured a retired minister, Wayne Irwin, who hosted a funeral for his late wife over Zoom. 

Our own Crosscut politics reporter, Melissa Santos, became a new mom at the start of this pandemic, and she shared some of her fears, struggles and hopes for her new family. She has introduced her son to visitors through a window.  

Alesia Cannady decorated her front yard with balloons, a miniature wood train and cupcakes for her granddaughter Aleiyah’s sixth birthday. Friends and family drove by and celebrated with Aleiyah across the street and from their cars.

Sharing these stories can help us all feel closer together and keep us moving forward. I want to share these experiences happening in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, but I can’t do it without your help. I'd like to document your big moments. Through (distanced) photographs, video calls and personal stories, this project will explore and document how we are adapting and finding new ways to move together through these milestones and rituals. How we are coping. How we are celebrating. How we are mourning. How we are loving. How we are sharing. How we are finding community during a time of isolation.

Whether you are crafting a new vision for your wedding, introducing your newborn to loved ones from afar, graduating from high school, navigating how to honor the life of a recently passed loved one or planning a socially distanced birthday celebration, we are here if you would like to share your story.

If you find yourself in the midst of one of these moments and would like to participate in the project, please reach out using the form below.

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